Emerald Lakes, New Zealand
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The walk along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park is popular one-day tramp. There are three active volcanos and the lakes and pools between them have waters of intense colour thanks to the volcanic minerals below the surface.
The Hells of Beppu, Japan
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Beppu, in Oita prefecture, is Japan’s hot-spring capital. There are more than 2,500 onsen (hot springs), but there are several – eight, to be exact – springs tourists don’t want to take a bath in. The Eight Hells are eight different pools that are wonderfully nightmarish, each in its own way. There’s Oniishibozu-Jigoku (shaven head hell), so named because the greyish bubbles that pop from its almost boiling (99 degrees Celcius) waters resemble monks’ heads, or Chinoike-Jigoku (blood pond hell) which has bright red water and steam. It’s not as hot as the other “hells”, but it’s still 78 degrees Celcius.
Lake Hillier, Western Australia
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Off the coast of Esperance lies the Recherche Archipelago and on Middle Island, the largest landmass, is Lake Hillier. At about 600 metres long and 250 metres wide, it is fairly unremarkable in every way bar its mind-altering, bubble-gum pink colour, thought (though not proven) to be caused by bacteria that live in the salt crusts.
Rotomairewhenua, New Zealand
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Also known as Blue Lake, in Nelson Lakes National Park, this lake, where visibility extends to 80 metres, holds the enviable title of “Clearest Lake in the World”. Strictly no swimming, though.
Peyto Lake, Canada
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The incredible and much-photographed lake in Banff National Park has a heart-stopping brilliant azure colour, which is put down to finely ground rock particles – or glacial rock flour – suspended in the water.
The Devil’s Bath, New Zealand
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Fluoro green, bubbling and sulphurous, the Devil’s Bath looks like something straight out of the Macbeth witches’ cauldron. It’s located in the Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland on New Zealand’s North Island among a swathe of other amazing geothermal sites, such as steaming mud baths and explosive geysers.
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On Flores, Indonesia, the Kelimutu volcano has three lakes that change colour as a result of chemical reactions thought to be triggered by volcanic gases. Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People) is generally blue; the other two switch between green and red.
Lake Natron, Tanzania
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The alkalinity in Lake Natron is so high that animals and birds that are unfortunate enough to die there are mummified by the sodium carbonate. The deep red colour, which fades to orange in the shallows, is caused by a salt-loving microorganism.
Lake Assal, Ethiopia
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With salinity levels at 10 times that of the ocean and an altitude of minus 150 metres, Lac Assal is the world’s largest salt reserve and one of the hottest places on earth. Its local nickname is “Hell”.
Spotted Lake, Canada
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A whole host of minerals combine here at this lake in British Columbia and the resulting colour varies on the spectrum between yellow and green. In the summer, the water level drops leaving dry channels between pools to give it its “spotted” look.
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The water filling the westernmost volcanic crater in the Ecuadorian Andes known as Quilotoa is a deep green due to dissolved mineral deposits. The water here is 250m deep, and it’s a very steep half-hour hike down to the lake’s surface.
Up Next: 13 Ancient Ruins You Must Visit
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Take a trip back in time with a visit to one – or all – of these fascinating archaeological sites.